In soccer-crazed South America, where passion for the sport transcends social boundaries, the dream of watching stars like Lionel Messi in action has become unattainable for many due to skyrocketing ticket prices.
During the September qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, fervent fans across the continent voiced their discontent over the steep cost of attending matches to support their favorite teams.
Pablo Gonzalez, a 49-year-old maintenance worker at a university in the Colombian town of Barranquilla, expressed his frustration, saying, “In my case, it is impossible to afford a ticket. One can’t truly enjoy it.”
The average ticket price for the match in Colombia is $102, a significant amount considering that the minimum monthly wage in the country is just $270. According to an analysis by AFP, these ticket prices rank as the second highest in the region for World Cup qualifiers.
In Argentina, where fans were eager to witness Messi’s brilliance, ticket prices for Thursday’s match against Paraguay averaged $120. This decision left many supporters disheartened, particularly in a country grappling with annual inflation of 120 percent and a poverty rate of 40 percent.
To provide some relief to fans, Argentina’s football federation introduced a subscription program offering preferential access to match tickets. However, even the most affordable “Gold” category subscription costs $14,000 for a three-year pass, which includes various benefits.
Even the national team’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, expressed his concern about ticket prices, mentioning how much it had cost him to purchase tickets for his family. “It cost me a lot, just like everyone else. But who am I to determine ticket prices? If it were up to me, I’d let people attend for free,” he remarked during a press conference.
Some fans echoed their dissatisfaction with the rising costs, with one stating that certain prices are turning something as popular as football into an exclusive event.
In Brazil, ticket prices surged in recent weeks, with Thursday’s match against Venezuela in Cuiaba seeing an increase from an average of $63 to $97.
Chilean captain Arturo Vidal, who is celebrated for his humble background, also voiced his concerns about the expensive tickets. “Tickets are expensive. I’ve already asked the president of the football association to lower the prices a bit. We need a full stadium,” Vidal conveyed on social media before a match against Colombia in September.
In Uruguay, football authorities admitted their mistake as high ticket prices left thousands of seats empty during a match against Chile last month. The country’s football association president, Ignacio Alonso, acknowledged the error, saying, “We made a mistake. The evidence is that the stadium should have sold 40,000 tickets, but only around 31,500 were sold.”
In response to the “rejection of the prices,” he decided to slightly reduce ticket costs. The cheapest seats for the upcoming match against Brazil on October 17 are now priced at $22, which is $3 less than the previous game.